Have you ever experienced a time when you are in a game and you deal with a scenario perfectly… But then encounter the exact same scenario on a separate occasion and you don’t deal with it as well as you did the previous time??
The difficulty of the scenario is exactly the same… So if you dealt with the scenario perfectly in the past, then why can’t you deal with it exactly the same the next time you encounter it?? If that’s you at your best then you’ve proven that you are capable of performing that action at that level, so in essence you should be able to execute the same action over and over again when the same scenario arises.
This is something I discovered within myself, not only in games but in training as well. For example, I will be working on making saves from the angle with my goalkeeper coach, and execute the perfect save and catch the ball repeatedly. But then minutes later when I encounter the exact same scenario in a small-sided game I decide to parry the ball instead of catching it.
Why didn’t I catch it??
I caught 5/5 of the exact same shot earlier, why has the game scenario caused me to be safe and parry the ball rather then catching it like I know I can?
The answer is simple… Its not my ability that is causing the variation in outcomes but it’s the inconsistency of my mindset that I approach the scenarios with that leads to a variation of outcomes. Therefore if you can develop a Consistency in Approach then you are giving yourself the best chance of performing at your best on a consistent basis.
Let me clear things up for those who don’t quite follow me so far…
I used to approach scenarios in games and in training differently depending on a number of factors, such as; the pressure of the situation, the possible outcomes, the importance of the event, the difficulty of the situation, the timing of the scenario etc. These factors led to a change of mindset and effected the decisions I made which created small variations in my performances. They probably weren’t noticed by anyone else but myself because I was still consistent in my performance level.
But I wouldn’t feel like I have performed the best I could of on that particular occasion. I knew how good I was when I was at my best, so if I could replicate the same mindset I had when I performed at my best, every time I step on the pitch, then I would completely raise the level of my performances.
So I sat down with my journal and started to figure out where these inconsistencies were coming from. The main thing I attributed to these inconsistencies was my concern of the outcome. This concern mainly rose when my team was winning. When we were winning, my decisions and mindset were all centered around getting the win, therefor my focus was completely on the outcome. This led to me being scared of conceding a goal and I would be anxious for the game to finish; because if we win that means I played well right? Not really, because when I looked back I noticed that my best performances came when we lost or were losing and got back into the game. This is because; when we were losing my focus was solely on the process of my actions. I wasn’t concerned with the outcome because we were already losing. I didn’t care if I conceded another goal, because my clean sheet is already gone. So I actually became relaxed, blocked out the pressure, relieved myself from the concern of making a mistake and actually felt free and liberated to play. This positive chain effect would lead to my best performances. So I needed to discover exactly what was going through my mind during these top performances and formulate them together to create a consistent mindset that I can approach every situation I will encounter when I’m on the pitch with my gloves on!
This is the consistent approach I created:
I am relaxed and connected with my surroundings. I am enthusiastic about my work, have a desire to compete and excited to make contributions. I am free of the worries of the possible outcomes. I am completely present focused and engaged in the moment. I feel in control of my body and my movements. I see the ball early and clearly and I am ready to deal with whatever is thrown at me. I have a deep sense of faith in my abilities and trust them to come through for me in every situation I encounter. I am assertive in my decisions and confident in the execution of my actions. I am aggressive and ready to get ‘stuck in’. I am strong, brave, and fearless. And lastly I have an indomitable spirit, I will not let anything disrupt the flow of my performance and I will enjoy every second of the game.
I know this may seem like there is a lot to think about but these are the thoughts and feelings I have when I am performing at my best. So since I created this ‘so called’ mindset I have been working to be consistent in the way I approach every situation. Whether it’s in training taking volleys of my GK coach or in an intense small-sided game. Whether it’s in the first 20 minutes of the game or the 90th minute protecting a 1 nil lead. I am consistent in my approach and am expecting the best out myself.
Its not easy, it takes a strong conscious effort to cement this mindset where it becomes automatic, and I’m not there yet myself but there is no better feeling then knowing you are at your best and that you can enter that state repeatedly!